China has detected its first imported case of the new coronavirus variant that is spreading rapidly around Britain, according to a publication run by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Countries around the world have cut off travel links to Britain to stop the spread of the new variant, which scientists have said is 40-70% more transmissible than the original virus.
The variant was detected in a 23-year-old female student returning to China from Britain, who was tested in Shanghai on Dec. 14, according to the latest edition of China CDC Weekly published on Wednesday.
The case “poses a great potential threat to the prevention and control of COVID-19 in China”, the publication said.
Researchers ran gene-sequencing on the patient’s sample on Dec. 24 and found the strain is a variant known as “VUI202012/01”, the publication said.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The variant includes a genetic mutation that, in theory, could result in COVID-19 spreading more easily between people.
China will suspend direct flights to and from Britain indefinitely, a foreign ministry spokesman said last week.
The patient in Shanghai has been transferred to a designated medical institution for quarantine, and investigation into her close contacts has started, according to the publication.